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In Conversation: Margarita Gluzberg and Tom McCarthy

In conversation with artist Margarita Gluzberg
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Join us for an evening with artist Margarita Gluzberg, in conversation with writer, critic and cultural theorist Tom McCarthy to discuss Gluzberg’s current exhibition at Pushkin House, ‘In Paradise’, that explores her childhood, 40 years after leaving the Soviet Union and 40 years since Andrei Tarkovsky's classic sci-fi drama ‘Stalker’ was made.

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2019 marks 40 years since Andrey Tarkovsky’s seminal film Stalker was made, and also 40 years since Gluzberg left Russia as a young girl. Stalker remains a radically current film touching on major cultural and existential themes. It follows a journey through the restricted Zone to the infamous room that can grant any wish. When Gluzberg left Moscow, the West itself represented a forbidden Zone that held infinite promise.

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In Paradise features a new series of large-scale drawings, occupying the central space of Pushkin House, which Gluzberg calls ‘cinema experiments’. Made during the night, these are constructed by projecting Stalker onto sheets of paper and ‘recording’ the moving image in real time as pencil marks. Different parts of the film are focused on, and what emerges are complex abstract works, that meditate on the film’s structure.

They are accompanied by other drawings that reconfigure trajectories of the film through biographical subjects of immigration, childhood, cultural memory and desire. Frequently portraits or characters from Soviet cartoons, these are entities that ‘re-populate’ the Zone, a multi-dimensional territory that has the potential to be anything we want - and in this case, the framework for making art.


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Born in Moscow, Margarita Gluzberg has lived and worked in London since 1979. Her practice ranges from drawing, usually on a gigantic scale, to performance, sound installation and most recently, photography and projection. From the subject of boxing, to the history of consumer culture and how it affects human relations, Gluzberg creates a visual territory from historical, autobiographical, and literary references. Her Captive Bird Society project, centered round early recordings of birdsong, generating a wider investigation into the story of phonography, and the apparatus of capture. Gluzberg’s most recent photographic body of work, the Consumystic series, is a meditation on the mystical, ritual nature of material desire, weaving a mesh of consumer signs and spaces. The camera acts as the interface between the consumer-voyeur, and the constantly changing, spectacular display of commodities. With reference to techniques used by the Surrealists, the images invoke an age when consumer fictions were being invented for the first time, but are returned to the present, a present where such fictions are becoming increasingly unsustainable. Margarita is a Senior Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Arts.

Gluzberg’s past solo exhibitions include Funk of Terror Into Psychic Bricks (2007), The Money Plot (2008), both at Paradise Row, London; Captive Bird Society: Dublin Edition (2009), Kevin Kavanagh Gallery, Dublin; and Phonographicon (2010) at Zonca&Zonca, Milan. With her most recent solo exhibition, Avenue des Gobelins, Paradise Row, 2012, she presented a new body of analogue photographic work, the Consumystic series. The work was also presented as a solo project at Unseen, Amsterdam, 2012. Her ongoing sound project: Captive Bird Society was commissioned for the official programme of the Paris Nuit Blanche in 2009. It was also performed at the MAC/VAL Museum Paris, 2009; Calvert 22 Foundation, London, 2010; and at the Wysing Arts Centre in 2013. Gluzberg’s work has been included in group shows in major European venues such as CAC, Vilnius; Rooseum, Malmo; KAde Kunsthal, The Netherlands; Lunds Konsthall, Lund; and Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow.


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Tom McCarthy is a novelist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, Remainder, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and has been adapted for cinema, theatre and radio. His third, C, was a 2010 Booker Prize finalist, as was his fourth, Satin Island, in 2015. McCarthy is also author of the study Tintin and the Secret of Literature, and of the essay collection Typewriters, Bombs, Jellyfish. He contributes regularly to publications such as The New York Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s and Artforum. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University. He is currently a Guest Professor at Stadelschule Frankfurt and Fellow of the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Programme.